New technology supports Queensland farmers

Published Friday, 19 July, 2013 at 11:15 AM


Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
The Honourable Andrew Cripps

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Honourable John McVeigh

The Newman Government is investing millions to support Queensland landholders through the use of newly designed technology and research.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh joined Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps today to view the latest in robotics for agriculture cropping and weed management.

Mr McVeigh said the Queensland Government was working with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and an industry partner at Swarm Farm in Emerald to develop the “AgBot”.

“The AgBot could revolutionise grain production by saving hundreds of millions of dollars every year in weed control and input costs, and could boost on-farm productivity,” Mr McVeigh said.

“Our $3 million investment will allow QUT to take this AgBot design and develop robots for on-farm weed management.

“The robotic technology will decrease the environmental impact on the land, due to a reduction in the amount of spray required to combat weeds and the lighter weight of the robots in comparison to large machinery.

“Innovations like the AgBot will also help us achieve our goal of doubling food production by 2040.”

QUT's Professor of Robotics and Control Professor Peter Corke said he hoped within the next decade robots would become common place and play a vital role in the day-to-day operation of Australian farms.

“The AgBot prototype opens up all sorts of possibilities,” Professor Corke said.

“It has already shown itself capable of navigating around very large, sown fields using sensors to target weeds with spray before they become established.

“At present, farmers have to use their tractors for weeding and they often have to wait for fields to dry out after rain, by which time weeds are taller and require more spray. 

“The AgBot could be used much sooner with less spray, which is better for the environment and the farmer's budget.”

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said like the AgBot, the Newman Government was also assisting Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups with access to vital technologies. 

“Desert Channels Queensland (DCQ) has begun using a new unmanned drone helicopter to control the spread of weeds in western Queensland,” Mr Cripps said.

“Funding allocations from the Newman Government help NRM groups carry out their vital work, and have allowed DCQ to use this Australian-first technology.

“This particular drone is vital in the battle to manage weeds in western Queensland, as it can deploy more weed spray and pellets on an affected area in five hours than a landholder could in five days.

“It is also incredibly accurate, and can target individual plants from the air without impacting other trees.

“This technology has enabled DCQ to manage massive prickly acacia infestations in areas of Queensland that have previously been inaccessible, and I congratulate them on their important work.”

Mr Cripps said $80 million had been allocated to Queensland’s 14 NRM groups over the next five years.

“This funding will provide suitable projects with up to $1 million over three years to support the Government’s NRM priorities,” he said.

“I strongly encourage NRM Groups to get their applications in by the end of July so that important work such as weed management can continue.”

[ENDS] 19 July 2013

Media Contacts:

Louise Gillis (Minister McVeigh) 0408 709 160

Paul Sutherland (Minister Cripps) 0428 868 237

Rose Trapnell (QUT) 3138 2361